Book 44 of 80
Next up is Girls of Riyadh by Rajaa Alsanea. This is a fictional look into the sex lives of four rich, fashionable, Saudi Arabian girlfriends. (Sex in the City Saudi Arabia isn’t too much of a stretch, as you can clearly see.) We’re talking men in Valentino thobes and women sporting Givenchy abayas while wearing Badgley Mischka dresses underneath. I’m just waiting for the Manolo Blahnik shoes reference.
The book has an odd format/voice — with an anonymous narrator publishing these stories after sending out cheeky emails to people on a list-serve. This book caused quite a stir among the Arab world when it was published — acting as a sort of expose to the up and coming changes happening in this conservative society. It was banned shortly after it was published and then black market copies were flooding the Middle East.
Now it has been translated into English for all to read.
The biggest criticism I’ve heard about this book is that the Saudi women it portrays are only a small fraction of the population. Right, well, if we’re keeping up with the Sex and the City comparisons, I’d say that goes for any book written about Western women’s sex lives too. It’s not really supposed to be a literary book — it’s extraordinarily light reading.
But this is a peek into something not often discussed and talked about — a world that is very strange to someone like me. I’m looking forward to reading this. At the same time, I’m not expecting it to be great literature. Regardless, I’m hoping it’s interesting!